LEAD On! What One Grad Is Up To

By United Way of King County, on August 5, 2015 | In News

Healthy, vibrant communities are best achieved when civic leadership reflects the diversity of the community.

We are a racially and ethnically diverse bunch here in King County. But too many people of color are still left out of the public conversation. Project LEAD—leadership, effectiveness and diversity—has been changing that since Miley Cyrus was born. 1992, guys.

Meet 1 of 1,000 graduates of Project LEAD, Aileen Balahadia, class of 2006:

Q: What were you up to pre-Project LEAD?

When I went through Project LEAD, I had served on some boards but hadn’t had training on how to do the work of board governance. I was serving on the board of the newspaper, The International Examiner, but didn’t feel I was contributing as well as I wanted to.

I was also a couple of years into my executive director role at the White Center Community Development Association—and I realized I needed to do a better job of managing my own board.

Q: How do you think your LEAD training and your LEAD network have contributed to your success?

The program taught me about the perspective of board members and the symbiotic relationship that exists between a board and executive director. This new understanding improved my management of the board—and I feel like this made me a better E.D.

And almost 10 years later, I still refer to the resource binder I got from Project LEAD. So that says something too.

Want a Project LEAD grad on your board? Let us help make the match. Email: ngandara@uwkc.org

Q: What have you been involved with since LEAD?

After LEAD I was with the White Center Community Development Association. Now I’m an independent consultant with nonprofits—Nonprofit Assistance Center, Multicultural Community Center Coalition. I help with capacity-building issues and the work of their boards.

Q: We’d love to hear your ideas on how human services groups can continue evolving as King County grows ever more diverse.

Definitely—human service groups need to invest in developing local, indigenous leadership. People from communities being served should be hired as staff members and developed into leadership positions. Develop a pipeline of leadership through hiring and development practices. That way you know you reflect the specific community you’re reaching out to.

On the board level, have clients on the board to keep the organization grounded, have the work of the organization shaped by the people they’re serving. This will help the organization be more in tune with the community.

My final thought is to create more close partnerships with community groups to address community issues, share resources and develop a more equitable approach to funding. This is the No. 1 issue I hear from nonprofits I work with.


Norris Harper
April 26, 2017

I would certainly like to experience a group like Project Lead.

Norris Harper

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